What Is Cardamom?
Popularly known as “Elaichi” in Hindi, “Aelakka” in Malayalam, “Elakkai” in Tamil, “Yelakulu” in Telugu, “Yalakki” in Kannada, “Ilaychi” in Gujarati, “Hr̥daya rōga” in Nepali and “Huba alhal” in Arabic – cardamom is a spice made from the seeds of several plants belonging to the family Zingiberaceae.
The spice is native to India, Bhutan, Nepal, and Indonesia. Cardamom pods are small (that’s how they are recognized), triangular in cross-section, and shaped as spindles.
Called the Queen of Spices, cardamom is the world’s third most expensive spice – surpassed only by saffron and vanilla. And not just that – this spice comes in different types as well.
What Are The Different Types Of Cardamom?
Green and black cardamom – the two major types.
Green cardamom, also known as true cardamom, is the commonest variety. This is distributed from India to Malaysia.
- It is used to flavor both sweet and savory dishes.
- It is also added to rich curries and milk-based preparations for its fragrance.
- Tea and coffee are also spiced with cardamom.
Black cardamom is native to the Eastern Himalayas and is mostly cultivated in Sikkim, Eastern Nepal, and parts of West Bengal in India. It is brown and slightly elongated.
- It is used only in savory dishes like curries and biryani.
- It is also an essential ingredient in garam masala (the blend of spices).
- The dark brown seeds are known for their medicinal values – particularly so because of their nutrient content (volatile oils, calcium, iron, etc.).
What Is The History Of Cardamom?
The use of cardamom dates back to at least 4,000 years. Considered one of the world’s oldest spices, it was used in ancient Egypt for its medicinal properties – and even as a part of rituals and embalming. And the Romans and Greeks used this spice for its pungent aroma. The Vikings discovered it during their travels and brought it back to Scandinavia.
What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Cardamom?
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||6.7 g||23%|
|Dietary Fiber||28 g||70%|
|Vitamin A||0 IU||0%|
|Vitamin C||21 mg||35%|
And now, we head to the benefits.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Cardamom?
Cardamom helps improve digestive health and prevents certain serious ailments like cancer. It also aids in diabetes treatment and helps you cope with depression. You can include cardamom in your diet as you usually do or even take cardamom milk (also called elaichi milk) to avail the wondrous benefits.
1. Improves Digestive Health
According to an Indian study, cardamom can be used in cuisines not just for flavor, but also for enhancing digestion. The spice also stimulates metabolism, given its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Cardamom is also known to stimulate the secretion of bile acid in the stomach, further aiding in digestion and proper fat metabolism. The spice also prevents other gastrointestinal ailments like acid reflux, heartburn, diarrhea, etc.
2. Promotes Heart Health
Its antioxidant properties can promote heart health. Cardamom also contains fiber, the nutrient that can help lower cholesterol levels and enhance heart health.
The spice also can lower blood pressure levels – and this benefits the heart. Simply have a concoction of a teaspoon of coriander and a pinch of cardamom along with a cup of freshly squeezed peach juice.
Black cardamom seems to work much better than its green cousin when it comes to heart health. One study conducted on patients with ischemic heart disease had their plasma lipid profiles and antioxidant status and fibrinolytic activity (a process that prevents blood clots from growing and causing problems) getting better post the ingestion of black cardamom.
As per a report by the Harvard Medical School, cardamom is one of the ingredients heart experts usually include in their dinners.
3. Aids In Cancer Prevention
Cardamom has exhibited its potential as a natural cancer treatment. Several animal studies have shown that the spice can be used to prevent, delay, and even reverse cancer formation.
As per one Saudi Arabian study, administration of cardamom powder had reduced the occurrence of tumors. Cardamom also decreases general inflammation, which inhibits the growth of cancer cells and encourages their death. Another Saudi Arabian study states that cardamom has the potential to treat forestomach cancer.
The spice had also shown desirable effects on chemically induced colorectal cancer in mice.
4. Has Diuretic Properties
Cardamom has diuretic properties that can benefit cases of hypertension, heart failure, and epilepsy. These diuretic properties of cardamom also aid in detoxification.
5. Helps Fight Depression
According to a health report, cardamom can indeed help people cope with depression. Just powder a few seeds of cardamom and boil them in water along with your everyday tea. Take the tea regularly for better results.
6. Fights Asthma
Cardamom plays a role in fighting asthma symptoms like wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest. The spice makes breathing easier by enhancing blood circulation within the lungs. It also fights related inflammation by soothing the mucus membranes.
Another report says that green cardamom can be used to treat asthma, bronchitis, and numerous other respiratory issues.
7. Aids In Diabetes Treatment
Cardamom is extremely rich in manganese – a mineral that can lower the risk of diabetes. However, a lot more research is required in this aspect.
8. Improves Oral Health
Cardamom possesses antimicrobial properties that enhance oral health. According to the European Journal of General Dentistry, cardamom can protect against oral pathogens like Streptococci mutans. The pungent taste of cardamom even stimulates the salivary flow – and this can help prevent dental caries.
Cardamom can also work well in treating bad breath. Especially when you take a mixture of spices, including the seeds of anise, cardamom, and fennel – bad breath wouldn’t be a problem anymore.